Church of Saints Simon and Helen, also known as the Red Church, is a neo-Romanesque church designed by polish architects Tomasz Pajzderski and Władysław Marconi. It was built between 1905-1910. The bricks for its walls were sourced from Częstochowa, whilst the roof tiles came from Włocławek. Its construction was financed by Edward Woyniłłowicz, a prominent Belarusian civic activist. The church was named and consecrated in memory of Woyniłłowicz's deceased children, Szymon and Helena.
In 1903, about 2,000 Minsk's Catholics wrote a petition to local authorities asking for a site to start building new catholic church. This request was satisfied, and construction started in 1905. The church was consecrated on September 20, 1910. On December 21, 1910, the church was opened.
In 1923, the church was robbed by the Red Army and in 1932 it was closed down by the Soviet authorities and transferred to the State Polish Theatre of the BSSR. Before the Second World War, the church was rebuilt into a cinema.
In 1941, the German occupation administration returned to building to its original use as a church, but after the war it was again used as a cinema, called the 'Soviet Belarus.'
In 1990, the building was returned to the Catholic Church. Since then it was renovated, and became an important centre of religious, cultural and social life. It also became a centre for the revived Belarusian Greek Catholic Church.
In 2006, Edward Woyniłowicz, the church's donator who died in 1928 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, was reburied here.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.